Moving In (December 18th)

And in the meantime, winter was beginning to arrive in earnest.

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Our hosts had said that we should be able to stay in the motel all winter, no problem, if needed, but it just wasn’t meant to be, not exactly…

The days began to get colder, and the work stretched out ahead of us, following our many delays…We now had electricity wired to the house, and the well-pump was installed and running properly, and we were working on the toilet. We still needed to send in a water sample, but we had determined that the sample would have to wait, since we didn’t really care what kind of water we flushed the toilet with, and the toilet was now priority #1!

And then, one Thursday night, a very fierce winter storm blew in. We listened to the wind howl outside the motel room, where we were plenty warm and snug – but, in the morning the pipes were frozen…And our host’s husband was out of town…So she had to call the plumber and deal with everything on her own. It was good news, largely. The pipes had frozen in the basement, which had some insulation gaps around the door and windows that had allowed the wind to whip in and bring the temperature down the same as outside. Nothing burst, and so there was just the bit of insulation work to do, and then they ran some space heaters to get things going again, and now they won’t ever have that problem again. It seemed to me a great learning experience, since our hosts want to run their property year-round, and it seems better to find out this kind of thing when your guests are there because you’re doing them a favor! But, ultimately, it was just more than our host could bear, and she asked if we could please be out by Sunday so they could winterize the room and close it down.

Sunday. That was like the-day-after-tomorrow Sunday. And so, we reassessed our needs, and determined that we would have to accept 1-2-and-3, with 4 to follow later on 🙂 So, Saturday was toilet day, and was also, unfortunately, a work day for me, as the busy season had ramped up at Wreaths Across America. But, after a partial day at the office on Saturday, I headed back home to assist with toilet installation. As Joe installed and plumbed and connected, I was the support crew, cooking meals and washing dishes and tending the fire, and occasionally handing over tools or holding things in place during bolting or soldering operations. Slowly but surely, the toilet, the pressure gauge, the sediment filter, the shut-off valves, and the well tank all went into place. The evening wore on, and one by one, the children wandered over to their cots and curled up in their blankets.

Somewhere around midnight, amidst the sound of gently-snoring angels, erupted the glorious sound of the first flush! Hahahaha, nothing was ever so satisfying as going potty inside for the first time 🙂

Joe and I enjoyed that elated feeling that comes with tackling a task that is beyond your reasonable ability, accomplished because the Lord gave you strength and perseverance and understanding. We cracked a cold beer from the “fridge” (the snow-pile on top of the cooler at our back door)… 

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…and sat down by the woodstove to celebrate…And realized that we were completely exhausted, and that we would be enjoying our first sleep-over after all!

Sunday morning, we returned to the motel, for our last hot showers for the forseeable future. There were haircuts for all the boys, and everyone enjoyed a long, hot scrub-down. Then we packed it all up and said goodbye to the motel, and moved the last of our belongings into our little house. I dubbed it the camping cabin, as we would be spending the next few weeks using bottled water to wash dishes, brush teeth, and take sponge baths. At first, we used plastic bins for washing, and then walked out the back door to dump the wash-water. But soon, Joe had taken one of the bins, drilled a hole in it, placed it on top of some wire shelving, and plumbed it to the drain! It was an awesome upgrade, and a faucet was not far behind…We are still heating water on the stove for bath-time, but the hot water heater installation and shower are next on the list, and it won’t be long now 🙂


It was interesting to me to see how the things that we had amassed came together in our little space. They were things I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to purchase, but they just happened to make life so much easier at whichever house we happened to be temporarily staying…There were the black wire shelves that we bought in Texas to store our bins of belongings in Mimi’s garage. There was the large cotton area rug that we purchased to put on the sheltered concrete patio out back, for relaxing and playing and learning on. There were three cots where our kiddos slept in Mimi’s house…Then there were the silver wire shelves that we bought in Alabama to act as storage areas and workstations, because we had learned how useful they were in Texas, but had left them behind there with our stuff on them! And the large outdoor area rug that we bought to put on the un-sheltered concrete patio out back, and two more cotton rugs for inside…And there were the large canvas tote bags that we bought in Florida for carrying gear to-and-from the beach, and the lovely woven baskets that we purchased on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the National History Museum Store, to carry souvenirs.

As we moved into our little house, each found its place, as the outdoor rug formed an entryway mudroom…And the cotton rugs covered the cold concrete floors in our living areas…And the wire shelves provided storage areas and work tables…And the cots made an instant kids’ bedroom in one corner…And the bags and baskets hung on beams to hold blankets, and snowpants, and fruits and vegetables…


Right now, our little house is organized with storage space upstairs, along with our bedroom…


Our living space is on the ground floor, including Joe’s workshop…


The bathroom, the living room…


The kids’ bedroom…


The kitchen, which includes a little propane stove that we use to supplement the woodstove, when we need to heat something up quickly…


And the woodpile!


This is our entire source of heat, and it’s doing a great job! The little old wood stove keeps the house above 60 all day long, and sometimes gets as high as 70 when we’re cooking, which is too hot, and we have to let the fire die down! Overnight, it gets down to around 55, which is a chilly morning, but the kids are snuggled in their sleeping bags until we get the fire going, and it’s soon warm and toasty again 🙂

Normally, we would have built up a woodpile over the previous year, and had it stacked and drying, ready for winter usage. But we didn’t move in until late fall, and so this year, we have to do things a little differently!

We began, of course, by burning all of the wood that we demolished from the house, and that was great! There’s a certain satisfaction in using the remains of the house to heat the house :), but it doesn’t last forever! Of course, we have plenty of wood all around us – but it’s all wet!

And so, first Joe downs dead trees and sections the logs. We drag the logs to a splitting area, where Joe splits it. We stack the split logs inside the house, by the back door, where they can dry more rapidly inside. As we feed the wood stove, we stack split sections around the back of the stove, to help them dry further before use. This continuous rotation will keep us warm through the winter, while we work on setting up a nice, covered woodpile that we can stock for next year! It’s a bit labor-intensive, but it is free, and so far it’s manageable.


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I enjoy the lovely continuity of this forest work, which has begun with the use of a chainsaw and a splitting axe that belonged to my dad. We brought them with us from Texas, and so they were right at-hand as we scratched our heads and looked from our forest to our wood-stove and back again!

And so, here we are, officially, completely moved in. It’s still an adjustment, to look out the window, and know that the land is ours, that we are no longer paying any monthly amount for the simple ability to live here…

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And build snowmen here…

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And learn that a porcupine lives here, and that they are wonderful tree-climbers 🙂

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(He really is that cute little brown blob in the branches!)

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And discover those wonderful surprises, like the fact that, of all the windows in our house, the top pane of one window freezes up into this amazing artwork!

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For all these things, there is no charge!

We will still have expenses, of course, that we will continue to try to reduce through the wise use of our land…Expenses for food and supplies, maybe for internet or phone, for whatever the law requires for insurance, for property taxes, and for electricity (although it took us an entire week to use our first kWh!) But it’s an exciting feeling, the feeling of setting out in a place that the Lord has given us, and seeing what we can do with Him here!




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